Jean Rollin’s weird, trashy, and dreamy ‘Requiem for a Vampire’ on Amazon Prime

There was no director like Jean Rollin, the French horror fantasist who died in the waning days of 2010 at the age of 72 and left behind a strange and wonderful (and sometimes horrible) legacy in his distinctive films. His reputation never really extended beyond cult circles but the weird sensibility and distinctive style and […]

Juliette Binoche vacations in ‘Slack Bay’ on Netflix

Bruno Dumont, once the chronicler of misery, alienation, and violence in rural France, has become a director of odd comedies with dark edges, first with the miniseries Li’l Quinquin and now Slack Bay (France, 2016). Slack Bay is set on the coast of Northern France in 1910, where the eccentric and wealthy Van Peteghem family arrives to […]

Ray MIlland stars in Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe adaptation

Roger Corman’s ‘The Premature Burial’ on Amazon Prime

Vincent Price starred in all of Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe adaptations but one. Ray Milland took the lead in The Premature Burial (1962), playing Guy Carrell, an aristocrat with crippling fear that he will be buried alive due to a family history of catalepsy. Corman brings the fear home in the opening scene: an […]

Mohammad Rasoulof directs this Iranian thriller

‘Manuscripts Don’t Burn’ on Amazon Prime

What’s most startling about Mohammad Rasoulof’s Iranian thriller Manuscripts Don’t Burn (Iran, 2013, not rated, with subtitles) is its audacity. Iranian filmmakers have a history of couching their criticisms of life in Iran in metaphor. This film puts its portrait of authoritarian oppression out in the open. We open on a contract murder that plays like […]

Louise Brooks and Richard Arlen star in the hobo drama by William Wellman

Silents Please! – ‘Beggars of Life’ with Louise Brooks, ‘Varieté’ from Germany, and more

Catching up on some of the silent films released to Blu-ray and DVD in the past months… Beggars of Life (Kino Lorber) William Wellman was one of the most versatile directors of his day, making everything from comedies and musicals to gritty dramas and war movies, and his World War I epic Wings (1927) won […]

Blu-ray: Gloria Swanson is ‘Zaza’ and Rudolph Valentino is ‘The Sheik’ and ‘Son of the Sheik’

Zaza (Kino Lorber) Gloria Swanson plays the music hall star Zaza (1923), Allan Dwan’s spirited silent film adaptation of the 19th century play by Pierre Berton and Charles Simon. This is “the Zaza of today,” reads the introduction, a 20th century version with Swanson as the temperamental star attraction of the top music hall in […]

The Italian TV crime drama

‘Romanzo Criminale: The Complete Series’ on FilmStruck

Romanzo Criminale: The Complete Series (Italy, 2008-2010) – In the late 1970s, ambitious young thug Lebano (short for The Lebanese) hatches a plan to leave the petty robberies behind and, in partnership with another gang, take over the drug trade in Rome, a city that is divided up by a number of small, unorganized gangs. […]

Peter Sellers and Claudine Longet in the Blake Edwards comedy

Peter Sellers joins ‘The Party’ on FilmStruck and Criterion Channel

The Party (1968) reunited Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers after a falling out during the second Pink Panther movie for a different kind of comedy: a modern sound version of a silent movie comedy. They don’t pretend it’s a silent film, mind you, but rather build a series of visual gags on a basic premise—Peter […]